By: Benna Crawford
Start Small But Think Big
Today you can find pens made of crushed computers, staplers that work without staples, and desk lamps that light using almost no electricity. Greening an office is easier than ever, and your small business can have a much more positive impact on the environment when you choose eco-conscious options. Today, recycled paper; tomorrow, remanufactured cartridges; next week, batteries designed to outlast some of your employees. Green your office with eco-conscious office products, and here are eight ideas to get you further on your way.
Trash Talk about Garbage
First there was the trash can; then, a trash can and a twine-bound stack of papers; eventually, a trash can, paper recycling bin and metal-glass-plastic-and-container recycling bin. You do see where this is going. You've got to cut down on office trash. As you work that out, collect your garbage in clearly marked receptacles. Recycling bins come in various configurations to fit in awkward spaces in the lunchroom or slim niches next to the printer. Where is the best place to place your bins? Where recyclables are generated. At work, while desks often have the trusty blue bin, what about mailrooms, breakrooms and conference rooms?
Clean and Green
It's a dirty world and you — or somebody in your office — have to clean it. You might as well be healthy while doing so. Green all-purpose cleaners are made with natural
ingredients that don't leave a trail of harsh chemicals. They can work on wood, glass, laminates, veneers, porcelain, stainless steel, sealed granite, linoleum, chrome and
other metal hardware and faucets. A reliable greener cleaner meets EPA Design for Environment or Green Seal/Eco Logo standards and says so on the package. Buy a
pump spray bottle and save money with economical refills. Win for you, win for the environment.
Face it, paper towels are a work of genius and your office would grind to a halt without them. So get your green on with recycled paper towels. Look for towels proudly
unbleached brown or whitened without the use of chlorine, and made with a high percentage of recycled content. Be the office hero when co-workers discover recycled
towels can still be tough and absorbent. Be an even bigger hero and buy paper towels by the case to save money and eliminate extra gas-guzzling deliveries. What other paper product is a work of genius? Well copy paper itself, one of the most essential items in a typical office. Try recycled copy paper or FSC certified options that are available in all paper grades.
Don't miss a single opportunity to furnish your office with recycled accessories. Calendars, highlighters, hanging folders and bankers boxes made from post-consumer
recycled materials look the same and often cost no more than virgin paper products. Recycled chipboard clipboards need no new wood. Rolls of bathroom tissue may once have been reams of used printer paper.
The Green Light
When lookingfor office lighting, stick to light bulbs, but do your homework. You have many choices with today's light bulb technology. LED bulbs are cool, long-lasting, mimic
daylight, contain no mercury and use about 80 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs. Lighten up efficiently, and both you and your office will look a brighter shade of green.
You've never actually figured out how to safely dispose of dead batteries with their payloads of heavy metal: mercury, lead, cadmium and nickel. Now you don't have to.
Rechargeable batteries save your budget while increasing your green credentials. Rechargeable batteries can be recharged up to 400 times and are guaranteed to last,
usually for five years. And when they are finally spent, you can easily recycle your rechargeables through the non-profit organization, rbrc.org.
Printer Cartridge Blues
If you use virgin plastic cartridges, the typical toner cartridge will use about a half-gallon of oil and about two pounds of metal and plastic. Remanufactured cartridges are made
from reused components and need minimal new materials or oil. Recycle the empty cartridges, and you can often earn rewards towards future purchases. The weekly memo produced on your office printer isn't likely to become your immortal legacy to the literary world. But your junked ink and toner cartridges will definitely outlast you, and your great grandchildren, too. Make them proud of you. Write like Hemingway, buy remanufactured and recycle your cartridges after use.
Lather, Rinse, Repeat
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a five-part program to help eliminate the hacking, sneezing, misery and sniffling that lower office attendance and
reduce productivity. It's called "washing your hands," and if it won't exactly defeat the common cold, it will slow its forward march. Wet, lather, scrub, rinse and dry — and
preferably do it with hand soap that helps keep the environment as healthy as you. Green Seal, Eco Logo or Design for Environment (DfE) certified soaps are tested by the
nonprofit environmental certifiers to match the performance of non-green cleaners while using less harsh chemicals. Healthier you. Healthier planet.
About the Author
Benna Crawford has been a journalist and New York-based writer since 1997. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, and in professional journals and
trade publications. Crawford has worked in executive management for global advertising and marketing firms, in finance industry regulation and as head of her ownsuccessful small business for 15 years.